The Portland Winterhawks have done something this season they didn't do last season even though they made it to the Memorial Cup Final. After playing a three game in three night grueling set of games, the Hawks find themselves just three points out of top spot in the league and an astounding 20-game winning streak.
In two games this weekend, that streak found itself in jeopardy early on. First, the last place Kamloops Blazers came to town and the Hawks found themselves down early in the game and were playing catchup through the first half of the first period. In the second, the monster that is the Hawks power came to life and owned the rest of the game, peppering Kamloops goaltender Bolton Pouliot with 46 shots and overtook the game, walking away with a 4-2 win.
The next night it was the Prince Albert Raiders. Riding a two-game winning streak against US Division teams, the Raiders also took an early lead on the Hawks and built it to a two goal lead midway through the first. The Hawks scored near the end of the period to salvage a 2-1 deficit. In what has almost become a trademark, The Hawks roared to life in the second period, scoring four straights goals to open up the game and lead themselves to another win. They ran into some penalty trouble in the third period which allowed Prince Albert a number of shots on goal, but only one goal and the Hawks would match that. Final score 6-3 Portland.
Sunday night was the start of a 4-game road trip that will see the Hawks return home in the second week of March. Against the Everett Silvertips, the Hawks have looked strong, but on this night, it was the Tips who came in to shut down the high powered offense. In fact it wasn't until the third period and the opening faceoff that the deadlock was broken as the Tips took a 1-0 lead. The Hawks fought hard and finally broke the wall that was Everett goaltender Austin Lotz nearly midway through the third period when Oliver Bjorkstrand pocketed his latest goal. Oliver now owns the record for the most points by a European player on a Winterhawks team. Then it was defense and shutdown hockey as both teams battled to break the tie. However, the remainder of the period remained scoreless and into overtime as well. It came down to a shootout to decide the streak’s future. Oliver Bjorkstrand came to the rescue again with the only goal of the shootout as Corbin Boes for the Hawks stopped all three Everett shooters and the Winterhawks won 2-1 which extends their streak to 20 straight wins.
The Hawks are off until the weekend when the streak goes on the line in games versus the Spokane Chiefs and Seattle Thunderbirds. Next home game for the Hawks is Friday, March 7 at the Moda Center.
Ice Chips: Winterhawks players will be on hand at the Burgerville on SE Hawthorne this Wednesday from 5:30 – 7:30pm for autographs, pictures and prizes. Nic Petan, Anton Cederholm, Taylor Leier and Brendan Leipsic will meet fans and more.
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.